Thursday, April 16, 2015

Update on Gunnar (the pup)


Dec. 3o, 2014 (First day Gunnar was found in the road)

January 4, 2015

Shortly after my daughter found Gunnar abandoned on the road in late December she noticed that he wasn’t quite right health–wise.  He was only about 6 weeks old and had been out on his own in the cold and snow in the woods for a few weeks. I honestly don’t know how he survived. After a few trips to her veterinarian’s office he was diagnosed with:

Portosystemic (Liver) Shunts in Dogs
Portosystemic shunts (PSS), also known as liver shunts or portosystemic vascular anomalies, are anatomical defects where one or more veins let blood bypass a dog’s liver. These veins are remnants of embryonic blood vessels that are supposed to regress shortly after a puppy is born. What causes portosystemic shunts is unknown. They may be caused by some insult to fetuses inside the womb. There almost certainly is a strong genetic component. As the abnormal veins shunt blood around the liver, substances that normally would be filtered, metabolized or modified by the liver stay in circulation. Many of these, especially ammonia, are harmful - especially to nervous system tissue. Affected dogs usually develop symptoms by 1 year of age. The signs of PSSs are nonspecific and episodic. They include lethargy, weakness, disorientation, drooling, vocalization, vision disturbances, pacing, stunted growth, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, appetite changes, changes in urination, itchy skin, tremors, seizures and collapse.

If you’re interested in more information on this condition click on the link below:

Needless to say my daughter was very concerned, as we all were, to see if we could help the little guy lead a normal life.  I’ve never heard of this condition in dogs but now we are all becoming experts. 

Gunnar is the friendliest, sweetest dog I’ve ever met.  Everyone who meets him falls in love with him on the spot.  People actually come over and ask to pet him all the time.  My daughter is lucky she can bring him to work with her.  He’s made friends with everyone there from the UPS guy, the mailman, the people who work in the building, and even random people in the parking lot that he meets on his potty runs. Gunnar loves to explore outside, meet new people and dogs, and play with his many toys.  His Lambie is still his favorite though.

Needless to say, we all wanted to do the best we could for him. His regular vet referred him to a specialist at Cornell where he was given a CT scan.  It turned out he had the more difficult kind of shunt to operate on.  Gunnar's is inside his liver instead of on the outside.  The vet there referred Gunnar to his mentor who has pioneered a new procedure for the kind of shunt he has.  So he was scheduled for an appointment with that specialist in a month or so.  In the meantime, Gunnar was being treated with medication and a special diet while we waited for him to get a little bigger and put some weight on. 

The day came for his consultation with the new specialist in Manhattan. When he arrived they examined him and decided he was ready for his operation the next day.  There is a 95% chance of success with this surgery.  The doctor seemed confident that he would do well.  The operation is done laproscopically (if that's the right word?) and they go in through the jugular vein in his neck.  It’s less invasive than the other surgery he might have had if the vein was outside the liver. For that surgery they would have had to open him up and recovery time would be about a month or more. During the operation they put in a stent and 14 coils--he did great.  We had to wait to see if he would have any complications after the procedure, as seizures and hepatic hypertension are major concerns.  The day prior to surgery they gave him anti-seizure medication. 

He stayed in the ICU unit for a day.  Apparently, they let him walk around and he kept going over to the packages of food and bringing them to everyone who worked there. Sort of a “how about it guys, I’m hungry!”

Afterwards, when everything appeared ok, he went into the general ward and got ready to come home.  I’m happy to report that he’s doing fine and there was really no down time for him. (As far as he was concerned.)  He’s playing and just being super cute.

The vet did say that when he’s full grown he might need another operation to put in more coils.  It all depends on whether the shunt begins to leak as he continues to grow. Fingers crossed.  We will deal with that if and when the time comes. But for now we get to be friends with a very sweet lovable pup who is one of the happiest dogs I’ve ever met.
Here's Gunnar a few weeks before his operation. (Both pictures)
 No gloves are safe since he was allowed to play with one of my daughter's!
( I have no current pictures of Gunnar -  I blame this on my daughter who is terrible about taking pictures!)

Quote for Today
“Happiness is a warm puppy.” – Charles M. Schulz


  1. So glad they were able to help him! He's adorable.

  2. Oh, bless his sweet, little heart!! It's so sad when illness happens to children and any little ones...just breaks my heart to think of them feeling poorly. But, I am so happy to hear that he's come through the surgery with success!!! Such good news!!! I do hope there are no more bridges to be crossed as far as his health is concerned. Let's hope he grows up big, strong and happy. He really is an adorable pup. :) I think it's a miracle the poor little guy survived at all, being that young and alone in the cold. I cannot even imagine! He must have had angels watching over him...

  3. Such a rough life for such a little guy, but it looks like things are looking up for him now. I hope he gets better and better!

    PS- Cornell is in my neck of the woods. I'm going to pretend I waved while you were here :)

  4. Gunnar is very blessed to have found your daughter!

  5. What a story! I'm so glad he is ok and am very anxious to see new pictures as he must have grown a lot more by now. Many thanks to you and your family for taking such good care of Gunnar.

  6. As with all the animals who find their way to your family, Gunnar is so lucky! I love it when an animal in need finds a home like yours and J's. He is in the very best of hands. Sending good thoughts for best results with his surgery and hopefully no need for more! He is absolutely adorable. :)

  7. Oh, sweet boy! My parents' dog, who we got as a puppy while I was still living with them, had the exact same kind of shunt, also internal. She got her surgery done at Tufts, had every complication under the sun, and had the worst shunt anyone at Tufts had ever seen. She's 7 years old now, and we maintain her carefully with diet, exercise, and medication. She is also the sweetest dog ever. We really wish we'd caught her shunt as early as you caught Gunnar's - she has a lot of serious longterm damage, including brain damage, that will never heal. I'm so glad that you caught his and that he is doing well. :)

  8. glad he made it through ok (and even more glad that he found his way to you!). hope he continues to do well in your care :)

  9. What a brave little guy, with all he's been through he's still such a fun-loving sweetheart. So, so happy he and your daughter found each other. And glad to hear he made it through the op. Give him a big cuddle from his fan in the UK :) And pictures would be nice (hint hint ;))

  10. Oh my goodness, how did he survive? He was meant to find you guys, for sure.
    Do you think he is part Pyrenean? He looks to have the coat for it

    1. Gunnar's father is a Great Pyrenees and his mother is Labrador Retriever. I think he's favoring his fathers side.

  11. I was so scared reading this that the ending would not be happy. What a relief!! He is the luckiest puppy, and obviously very special.

  12. What a special pup Gunnar is, no doubt he has come into your lives for a reason. Glad the lovable fluff ball is doing well!!

  13. Completely wonderful!

  14. Your daughter has saved the life of this pup twice now. Gunnar has a special job to do, looks like your daughter has been wisely chosen to be his guardian.


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